Three ways technology improves sustainability in mining

Image: AVEVA

Digital transformation produces immediate and tangible sustainability benefits for industries in the mining, minerals and metals sector, AVEVA Pacific vice president Damien McDade says. 

The mining industry indirectly caters to nearly every sector of the economy, from raw materials for industrial components for wind turbines and electric vehicles to precious metals aimed at consumer industries.

But as industrial and retail consumers remain focussed on sustainability and are increasingly prepared to vote with their wallets, mining enterprises face corresponding pressure to shift to cleaner and more sustainable operations.

This pressure has only intensified in the wake of the pandemic.

The task ahead is daunting – to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, the mining industry will need to reduce direct CO2 emissions to zero, called net zero.

As a signatory to the joint Race to Zero alliance, AVEVA is committed to net zero emissions within its own operations and to helping its customers in the mining, minerals and metals sector achieve the same target through digital transformation.

Mining, minerals, and metals organisations recognise that digital transformation is the single biggest facilitator of improved sustainability practices across the industry.

International Data Corporation (IDC) research shows that more than 85 per cent of organisations across the sector either already implement operational metrics that are directly linked to sustainability or plan to do so in the near future.

Digital Mining Transformation solutions help mining companies to reduce complexity and optimise business and operational performance in tangible ways, including by providing greater visibility and control over operations, enhancing resource and process optimisation, monitoring, and managing energy and water consumption, providing insights on environmental emissions reduction opportunities and designing green processes. 

 

How does technology improve sustainability in mining?

Digital transformation yields immediate and tangible sustainability benefits for organisations in the mining, minerals, and metals industry.

From visibility into value chain inefficiencies to sustainable design solutions, onboarding technological solutions pays off in three different ways for the mining sector:

  • Assembles data insights: By leveraging technology to capture data across their mining operations, organisations can quickly track important metrics. They will quickly understand, for example, how much energy they are consuming, and simultaneously, what changes and innovations can help to lower that consumption. As research shows, data improves decision-making and helps initiate action towards sustainability goals within and outside the organisation.
  • Provides empirical evidence: The availability of such comprehensive datasets allows mining organisations to demand cleaner sources of energy at source from suppliers in turn. About 90 per cent of sector organisations currently plan to implement energy data measurements in order to enable carbon management systems across their operations, according to IDC.
  • Facilitates sustainable design: Finally, data enables mining and minerals organisations to design for sustainability and safety. IDC surveys show that 50 per cent of organisations currently actively monitor their equipment and processes to assess their impact on safety on the mine floor. In most instances, if those health and safety risks are too high, the organisation will look to alternative, safer products. So, technology facilitates the choice of designing plants with a sustainable mindset.

 

AVEVA’s Digital Mining and Metals Transformation solutions can provide the operational and organisational insight required to make sustainable operations and improved decisions through the collection and analysis of data.

No less than 19 of the world’s top 20 mining companies are currently AVEVA customers.

For an idea of how digital transformation pays off in terms of sustainability consider Black Rock Mine Operations (BRMO), which excavates and produces 3.3 million tonnes of iron and manganese ore per year across its three separate mine shafts in South Africa.

Using a suite of centralised AVEVA mining processes, including System Platform with Historian and OMI video wall visualisation, BRMO recorded nearly double-digit growth in productivity and improved in-shift reporting from less than 50 per cent to a sustained 90 per cent, as well as a significant increase in uptime and improved health and safety metrics.

Another great example is Barrick Gold, one of the largest gold mining companies in the world.

Barrick Gold Nevada’s Goldstrike mine implemented environmental compliancy rules in their real-time operational data platform to help their operations team cope with the challenge they had following an expansion project.

This actually helped Barrick reduce environmental deviations by 45 per cent which represents a great improvement in terms of corporate social responsibility.

In summary, operational data management and optimisation software solutions that are used in a digital transformation journey can lead to significant improvements in terms of sustainability.

This represents a major Business Transformation and the best companies succeeding in this journey are doing it in a step-by-step approach.

Learn more about AVEVA’s sustainability in mining solutions.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.